Wednesday, 19 January 2011

The Hollow Heart

by Martina Devlin

This book jumped at me while I was researching infertility in my local library. It’s about a woman deep yearning for children resulted in 3 failed IVF attempts which finally led to the breakdown of her marriage and eventual divorce. That’s the short of it; for the long of it, you’ll have to read the book yourself. I recommend it to any couple that plan on undergoing IVF and indeed for all women that have just been diagnosed with infertility; whether it be due to PCOS or other causes. If you’re fertile but have a friend that has it, it’s worth reading too or recommending to her.

It is a honest, remarkable, hand-on-heart account of one woman’s personal experience. For that reason alone, and not because every page of the book resonates, I have absolutely no criticism whatsoever. And rather than review the book, I’ll just ‘talk around it’ because it’s so personal I’d feel I was intruding on another persons unique life experience.

I must admit I felt rather smug at some point during the book – as you normally would when looking at another persons life through retrospective lenses – because I kept thinking, ‘That could never happen to me’. I thought if I were in their shoes there’s no way I would not have seen it coming. At the same time I could easily see how, if our circumstances were different, me and my hubby could have easily slid down that slope.

We have been very lucky to be spared the strain of baby making. The way it is he travels a lot, and every time he gets back it’s like honeymoon all over again for the first few weeks or so, couple of months later, he’s gone again. So we’ve never suffered from the monotony of having sex for the sole purpose of procreation. We’ll have been married for 4 years next month and I still love the fact that he gets sulky when I don’t make an effort for him.

Yes, his frequent travelling has hindered our baby making process, at the same time we’ve found out now that with my blocked tubes, even if he was around all the time I still couldn’t have gotten pregnant. Martina and I both suffer from banjaxed fallopian tubes, you see, to borrow her words.

“I remember reflecting how overwhelming is news of infertility. It’s akin to discovering that while you were sleeping an arm has been amputated, so you can no longer manage the simplest combinations – carrying something and opening a door at the same time, for example. Something you take for granted is snatched away from you. There’s a sense of injustice, of course, for infertility is unjust. As well as that, there’s a sense of recognition”. (Martina Devlin – The Hollow Heart)

Indeed, a recognition that perhaps you need to re-tune your priorities. That’s really the greatest lesson from the book, to be thankful for your blessings. Imagine if I had gotten in a huff, beat myself up and made both of us miserable for the past 3 years only to find out this info. I would have felt like a fool. A lot of us believe when we get X our lives would finally be complete. Or that we can’t be truly content until we possess Y. It’s much the same with babies or indeed with many other things like having a man in our life, or getting that job, or owning a property in a certain area.

There are other lessons to take away from this book, mainly that marriage is not easy business. Couples need to be on the same page regarding the degree of how badly they want a baby. If one wants it more than the other, it’s bound to cause strain in the relationship. Equally so if both want it so badly to the exclusion everything else, even their love for each other. Lastly, as a woman, don’t make your sole purpose on earth being a mother. There; I said it! As crude as it sounds the sooner you come to terms that you might never be able to have biological children the better it is for your health on the long run. Nobody likes to think of the possibility but it is, sadly, the reality of life; we don’t all get all we want in life. I know it; I’ve accepted it: now I sleep better at night. I want to be a mother, I will try my best to be a mother, I will do everything I can within my physical, emotional and financial means, but I will not beat myself up over it in the process.

Love the life you have, not the life you think you should have – The Hollow Heart.

Tomorrow is my follow up appointment at the fertility clinic. I was a bag of nerves but after reading this book I've been overcome by a sense of calm. I was heartbroken to be going alone (hubby is still away) but if I can go through that blasted HSG alone, I can surely hear the results alone.
Well, wish me luck. I'll let ya'll know how it goes. Whatever happens, I'm prepared to accept it and move forward.

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